It would be an extreme understatement to call the garbage created by bottled drinks a serious problem. In Hong Kong, less than 4% of disposable plastic (PET) drink bottles are recycled and Coca-cola owned brands alone produce 1 million bottles a day (you read that right, it’s per day). These bottles end up in the landfill or worse yet in the ocean. According to National Geographic, “Plastic break down fast in the ocean…These degrading plastics are leaching potentially toxic chemicals…into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us… About 44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects.

Drinking tap water when on-the-go is the best way we can ensure that we don’t contribute to this problem. Water without sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, coloring or additives is also the healthiest and safest choice for our bodies. According to the Hong Kong government: “Water samples are taken regularly throughout the entire supply and distribution system… The data from these samples are checked against the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality… With this international standard of reference, you can rest assured that the water in your home is safe for consumption… The water that comes out of your taps is amongst the safest in the world, as long as the plumbing in your property is properly maintained.” Since we haven’t bothered to find out about the condition of the plumping in our building, we have installed a filter on our tap to be on the safe side.

GREEN RATING We give all re-usable water bottles a Deep Green rating not only because they are an invaluable tool in reducing waste, but also because they reduce carbon emissions resulting from the production, transportation and refrigeration of bottled drinks. With summer just around the corner, using a re-usable drinking container is something we can all do to ensure we don’t contribute to this massive garbage problem.

Departing from our usual practice of providing a product rating, we have instead outlined the pros and cons of four products readily available in Hong Kong, to help you chose the right one for you. Generally, I have found that unless doing strenuous exercise, you don’t need as large of a container as you may imagine, especially since you’ll likely be having a drink with your meals. Upon coming home I often find my bottle still half-full. And since it’s something that you’ll be using all the time, it pays to buy one you’ll enjoy using. I have tried using all the bottles except for Klean Kanteen.

NOTE: none of the bottles profiled are designed for hot drinks.

PRODUCT Klean Kanteen pictured with sports cap (unlined stainless steel)

PRICE About HK$200

PROS The elegant shape makes it the best looking bottle on the market. Slim profile fits well in your hand. Stainless steel makes it tough and durable. Resists taste and odors. The inverted cap is easy to clean. Comes in many colors.

CONS Smallish mouth makes it hard to clean inside. Stainless steel makes it heavier (but also more dent resistant than aluminum).

PRODUCT Bilt (unlined stainless steel)

PRICE About HK$80

PROS Large mouth makes it easy to clean (important if you like flavored drinks) and easy to add ice cubes. The ring on the lid makes it easy to carry with two fingers. The rugged look gives it character, like a pair worn Levi’s, when it’s inevitably dropped and dented. Stainless steel makes it tough and durable. Resists taste and odors.

CONS Heavy. The width makes it a bit too large to fit comfortably in your hand and may not fit easily into a slim bag.

PRODUCT Nalgene (Copolyester)

PRICE About HK$80

PROS Low weight and very durable.  Easy to clean. Translucence makes it easy to see exactly how much water you have. The attached lid means no accidentally dropping it on the ground.

CONS Gets scratched and looks a bit scruffy after a couple of years. A bit too wide to fit easily in your hand.

PRODUCT Sigg (lined aluminum)

PRICE Around HK$200

PROS Very lightweight. Large selection of colors and graphic designs. Small mouth means contents don’t flood out of the bottle so rapidly making it good for drinking while moving. All aluminum bottles use a lining that resists tastes and odors.

CONS Dents easily and since it’s such a refined looking bottle it looks especially bad when dented. Small mouth makes it nearly impossible to clean the inside.

For more info go to: http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/water+bottles.html